Author, writer, professor, and overall wordsmith Jane Harrington doesn’t get writer’s block, and when you hear why, it makes sense. “I guess I view writing as a broader thing, so I’m never gonna call it writer’s block,” she tells So Booking Cool. “Because I’m not just gonna sit in front of my computer and not produce something. I’m going to do something else to kind of ease the logs out of the log jam.”
Whether it’s going for a walk, researching, reading other works, or arguably Harrington’s favorite, driving, she knows she has options for recharging her creativity, as she describes.
Harrington, who is based in Virginia, has been writing professionally for over two decades. Her early literary work was published in Cricket Media’s SPIDER and Hopscotch, both children’s magazines. Naturally, she decided to write a children’s book. She landed book fair publisher, Pages Publishing; however, a month prior to the book’s release, the publisher sold to Scholastic. “Everything was kind of in limbo,” Harrington recalls. Due to an issue with the book’s rights, Scholastic was unable to publish it. But luck or fate was on Harrington’s side.
“Scholastic offered to read my work,” the novelist shares. “If I had something else, they said, ‘we’ll give it a read’; and normally Scholastic is not open to unrepresented authors or people who don’t have a track record…so I’d been writing this manuscript for Lucy’s (Completely Cool and Totally True) E-Journal, and so I sent it to them, and it was fortunate that they were interested.”
Lucy’s E-Journal became a bestseller at Scholastic book fairs and rose to their top 5 in 2002. The book has sold more than 150,000 copies. It also paved the way for three additional titles including two Junior Library Guild selections Four Things My Geeky-Jock-of-a-Best-Friend Must Do In Europe (Darby Creek/Lerner 2006; Scholastic 2006) and My Best Friend, the Atlantic Ocean, and Other Great Bodies Standing Between Me and My Life With Giulio (Darby Creek/Lerner 2008); and EXTREME PETS! (Scholastic 2007), the 2008 American Library Association YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers as well as the 2008 Children’s Choices selection with the International Reading Association and Children’s Book Council.
After success in children’s publishing, a little over a decade later, Harrington still has much to look forward to in her career. She will release her debut adult novel for In Circling Flight, which won the 2019 Brighthorse Prize. In 2015 she pursued her MFA. She continues to educate in writing and will teach Washington & Lee University’s first Writing for Children course beginning this April. “It’s exciting,” she says.
Check out the interview to learn more about Harrington including how her children inspired her early literature; her candidness about how her children growing up and moving out affected her; her literary heroes; teaching creative writing versus literature; collaborating with her daughter; whether she’ll write another children’s book, and more! For more information, visit Harrington’s official website.